Courtesy of StepOutside.org

Musgrove calls win in front of 1979 champs ‘an honor’

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Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Bryan Reynolds celebrate the Pirates' win on Saturday night at PNC Park - AP

Joe Musgrove captured the mood of PNC Park on Saturday night perfectly.

“There was a lot of excitement in the air,” he said.

Indeed, there was as a sellout crowd of 38,380 on hand. Many of the fans came to see the 1979 Pirates honored in a pregame ceremony, celebrating the franchise’s last World Series winner and participant.

The current Pirates then played like a championship team in beating the Phillies, 5-1. Musgrove led the way, allowing one unearned run and two hits in six innings, while Starling Marte had two doubles among his three hits.

The Pirates (46-51) won for just the second time in eight games since the All-Star break. They admittedly drew some extra energy from watching the last championship team gather along the third-base line before the game. The Pirates wore all-black replica ’79 uniforms.

“It was so special,” Musgrove said. “We see those guys a lot. We see them around the clubhouse, around the field, down in spring training. I’ve had a chance to talk with a lot of them and have them share their experiences with me. It was an honor to wear the uniform tonight and play well for them.”

Added Marte through translator Mike Gonzalez: "It was a very fun night, especially celebrating the ’79 time with such a beautiful ceremony, and also honoring them. They are legends and we are trying to continue their legacy, and they inspire us.”

Corey Dickerson, who also had a pair of doubles, enjoyed watching the ’79 team be feted:

Musgrove gave a championship-caliber performance, including eight strikeouts. Musgrove was originally scheduled to face the Phillies on Sunday but was moved up a day when Trevor Williams was scratched because of severe flu-like symptoms.

“Mentally, it changes things a little knowing you’re going to be out there one day sooner,” Musrove said when I asked him about the difference of pitching on a different day than anticipated.

“You lose a day of sitting and watching and studying their lineup a little bit. I felt really strong, though, and it came down to execution and (Jacob Stallings) did a good job of challenging me and making sure I was convicted with my pitches.”

Musgrove also waited out a 28-minute rain day in the fifth inning. It marked the second time in three weeks that Musgrove returned after a delay after never having done so before.

“The last thing I expected was a delay,” Musgrove said. “It was hot and humid and the sun was out, then the next think I know there are clouds overhead and a wall of water coming at us. They said it was only going to be about 20 minutes, so I didn’t really cool off too much.”

Musgrove talked more about his outing:

The Phillies (51-48) scored their run in the fifth inning and it was unearned because of Josh Bell’s fielding error.

The Pirates opened the scoring with a three-run third that included consecutive RBI hits by Bryan Reynolds, Marte and Josh Bell. The highlight of the inning came when Musgrove, who had doubled, scored with a headfirst slide on a single by Reynolds, beating right fielder Bryce Harper’s throw.

“Don’t be out,” Musgrove said with a smile when asked if there were any unwritten rules about a pitcher sliding headfirst. “I feel like I’m pretty athletic, can move pretty well. Obviously, I wouldn’t put myself in that situation if I didn’t think I’d be safe.”

The Pirates added single runs in the seventh and eighth inning to pull away while Michael Feliz, Francisco Liriano and Felipe Vazquez pitched one scoreless inning each to complete the three-hitter.

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